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Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM)

Life Histories of Theban Tombs


  • Swiss National Science Foundation (2015-2018)


The project originates in the study of a group of mostly unfinished rock cut tombs and their mutual relations at the hillside of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna in Western Thebes and understands this cluster as part of a planned cemetery opened up for a small elite with close personal links to the king around 1450-1400 BC. It draws on an integrative archaeological perspective, which combines cultural historical and scientific investigation methods and questions, and aims at retracing the materialized life histories of tombs, i.e. how they interacted with their built and natural environment, with institutions and with people from their construction to modern times. The project seeks to re-personalize human activities in the past such as operations and procedures related to tomb building and decoration, funerary practices, inhabitation, looting, etc., it will therefore prioritize research techniques and procedures that give relevance to the detail and variation. The digital collection and processing of data and the development of an open source interactive database system will support this research strategy. Excavations of TT K555, a tomb of the cluster still buried under debris, are archaeologically promising as the debris may have protected deposits and structures from modern continuity disruptions.